From the Orange Prize-winning and Man Booker-shortlisted Linda Grant.
‘In the olden times, in the old country of Latvia, a girl walks out of the city into the forest to gather mushrooms in a basket, like a child in a fairy tale.
Her name is Mina Mendel, just turned fourteen years old.
She’s on the brink of something but doesn’t know it. Folk tales begin when a person sets out on a journey; then a story is in the making, with a beginning, a middle and a satisfactory conclusion ending in a marriage and the defeat of all your enemies. Peace reigns, fortunes are restored, wrongs are righted. Granted, these tales of myth and legend generally concern young men embarking on heroic deeds and quests, but on this occasion it’s a curly-haired Jewish girl who picks up her basket, steps from the house and walks with purpose along the streets until the city runs out.’
‘Epic and marvellously entertaining . . . There’s a furious energy to the novel, which constantly moves forward even as it looks sorrowfully back’
‘Magnificent… I want to press a copy on everyone I know’
‘Epic, magnificent, beautiful… I couldn’t put it down’
Vivid storytelling with complex and colourful characters… spectacular’
‘Ambitious and moving and funny… I loved it’
It’s 1913 and a young, carefree and recklessly innocent girl, Mina, goes out into the forest on the edge of the Baltic sea and meets a gang of rowdy young men with revolution on their minds. It sounds like a fairy tale but it’s life.
The adventure leads to flight, emigration and a new land, a new language and the pursuit of idealism or happiness – in Liverpool. But what of the stories from the old country; how do they shape and form the next generations who have heard the well-worn tales?
From the flour mills of Latvia to Liverpool suburbia to post-war Soho, The Story of the Forest is about myths and memory and about how families adapt in order to survive. It is a story full of the humour and wisdom we have come to relish from this wonderful writer.